By Sean Chase – 1851 Staff
After four long years, the Lasers are once again a playoff team, making the quarterfinals of the Greater Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) tournament.
The men’s soccer team has not been in the conference playoffs since 2015, but after closing out the season with winning five conference games in a row, the Lasers are finally back. A record of five wins and six losses in-conference play saw the team travel to first-seed, Johnson & Wales University ( JWU), in the GNAC quarterfinals. An upset was almost in the cards with a final score of 1-1, but JWU edged out the Lasers 4-2 on penalties to take the win and advance to the semifinals.
Forcing JWU, the number-one seed and now GNAC champions, to penalties was a measure of the Lasers turnaround this season. The team started off the season losing six of their games against GNAC opponents, and with only five conference games left, the Lasers believed if they won their remaining games, they’d be in the playoffs. And that they did. Their overall season record ended 6-14- 1.
Senior captain and goalkeeper Jackson Burhans thinks out of the four years he’s been on the team, this is the most positive atmosphere the team has seen and has helped them all come together to produce the most victories since 2014.
Sophomore midfielder Edson DaSilva believes senior Andrew McKenna’s team pep talk also contributed, as the Lasers fully believed they could win out the rest of the season.
“[McKenna] pointed out there were five remaining games left in the season that were all winnable if we put our minds to it,” said DaSilva. “It truly inspired the team and created a difference in our team dynamic.”
The Lasers went on to beat Emmanuel College, Anna Maria College, and Rivier University in overtime, as well as Regis College and Suffolk University. Finding the back of the net with ease, scoring at least two goals in each game over their winning streak, the Lasers defense also came together, allowing only six goals in their five wins. Heading into next season, DaSilva says the improvement on both ends of the field can take them even further.
“Our goal is to now win the GNAC title,” said DaSilva. “Heading into next season, we believe we can win the championship.”
Although the Lasers will be losing five seniors next year, they’ll be poised to make a deeper run in the GNAC playoffs. Coach Michael Haynes provided valuable collegiate experience to the younger classes by giving them opportunities to start in important games, which will only prepare the team for future success, and hopefully capturing Haynes’ ultimate goal.
“My goal is to build a soccer program sustained by outstanding student-athletes that are driven to succeed,” said Haynes. “The ultimate goal is to capture a national championship and make Lasell University an institution that students across the country are desirous to attend.”